When I was seven years old, I took my allowance and bought a copy of Daredevil #6. The yellow-and-black-clad, blind superhero began my journey into the world of Marvel Comics, the brainchild of Stan Lee. Lee died Monday. He was 95.
After Daredevil #6, I quickly discovered Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Spider-Man, the Avengers, Fantastic Four, and X-Men. I was hooked.
My next-door-neighbor, Amy Jones, who was two years my senior, discovered Marvel comics about the same time and we spent hours every week talking about our most recent comics and pretending to be superheroes.
Spiderman eventually became my favorite. As much fun as his superheroic exploits, were his personal problems. As a high school teenager, he had to worry about girls, money, grades, and transportation. When I got a little older, I could relate to all those struggles. That is what set Marvel apart from other comics. The characters all had complex — and complete — personal lives. You got to really know the characters.
Lee frequently addressed readers in comments at the back of the books. Back in the day, there also were letters to the editor. I loved reading what the other fans thought of their favorite characters.
When the first animated adventures of the Marvel characters debuted, I remember cheering with delight with Amy Jones as Iron Man, with jets ablaze, was the first of our beloved characters to grace the small screen. We watched it at Amy’s house because she had a color TV.
When the live-action movies started, I was beyond thrilled. I really wanted to watch them with my friend, Amy Jones. Alas, I lost contact with her at least 30 years ago. I can only hope she enjoys the movies as much as I do.
At some point, I changed from wanting to be a superhero to wanting to work at Marvel Comics. I thought that would be the ultimate career for a young, dreamy-eyed writer.
Somehow I never managed never to send a resume. I tried to do my own comic book a time or two, but I was hampered by my inability to draw anything beyond a stick figure.
Both of my children caught my enthusiasm for Marvel characters. We see as many of the movies together as we can, although we are spread across three states. A Marvel movie comes out each year during my birthday week and we make an effort to see it together. Great birthday present, Stan.
Eventually, I decided that since a comic book career was out, that I would just like to meet Stan Lee and shake the hand of the man who had added such delight to my childhood.
This seemed within reach as I went to a couple of comic book conventions with my daughter, Kate. Stan Lee attended a lot of conventions and I hoped to cross paths with him at one of those.
The clock ran out on that on Nov. 12. I will miss Stan Lee and the joyful influence he had on my life.
But, in a way, he lives on through his body of work.
A couple of years ago, I think it was at Christmas, my daughter told me she had gotten me a special gift at a comic book convention. She gave it to me early because she couldn’t wait to see my reaction.
It was a pristine copy of Daredevil #6.
Robert Shearon, who had a 30-year career in newspapers, is now a social worker. He lives in Poteau, Okla.